Energy Efficiency on Campus

NREL ensures the resiliency of our future energy systems through energy efficiency strategies and technologies and renewable energy on the NREL campus.

Energy

Efficiency

NREL is committed to the efficient use of resources, including energy. Energy efficiency strategies and technologies integrated throughout the campus include:

  • ENERGY STAR-certified equipment
  • Insulation
  • Natural ventilation
  • Daylighting
  • Passive heating and cooling
  • Plug-load management
  • Monitoring- based commissioning.

NREL's Intelligent Campus program examines actual versus projected energy use as the campus continues to expand, adding several Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum buildings over the years.

Metering

NREL meters electricity, thermal consumption, and energy use intensity in all buildings. All NREL facilities that use natural gas have whole-building gas meters and, where appropriate, all renewable energy production and consumption is metered. NREL uses an energy dashboard and other tools to continuously track energy generation and consumption.

Renewable Energy

NREL's campus is powered in part by renewable energy sources, including solar, wind, and biomass power.

Onsite Renewable Energy Portfolio: FY 2020

In FY 2020, 17% of electricity used on NREL’s campus came from solar and wind power. 5.4 megawatts and 6,226 megawatts per hour from solar and 7 megawatts from wind power.
56% of district heating came from 9 MBtu/hour and 29,417 MBtus of biomass power.

 

Roof-mounted solar panels atop a grey building.

Solar

Photovoltaic systems at the South Table Mountain Campus and Flatirons Campus have a total capacity of 4.5 MW. PV systems are either directly purchased or acquired through power purchase agreements, and the renewable energy credits from the majority of these systems are sold to Xcel Energy to support the State of Colorado's Renewable Portfolio Standard. NREL purchases replacement renewable energy credits for these systems each fiscal year.


Aerial view of a wind turbine at NREL's Flatirons Campus.

Wind

Wind turbines at the Flatirons Campus have 7 MW of installed capacity, including turbines used for research.


Wood-fired hot water boiler and woodchips.

Thermal

NREL's Renewable Fuel Heating Plant is a 9-MBtu/hour woodchip-fired boiler that uses woodchips from sustainable forest thinning. The plant provides about one-half of the heat delivered to NREL's South Table Mountain campus central heating system. There are two ground-source heat pumps on South Table Mountain. Solar thermal energy technologies, including ventilation air preheating systems and Trombe walls, are incorporated throughout NREL's campus .


Energy Mix

This infographic shows NREL's FY 2020 energy consumption by fuel type. The South Table Mountain campus consumed energy from grid electricity, natural gas, biomass, and solar photovoltaics. The Flatirons Campus consumed energy from grid electricity, natural gas, solar photovoltaics, and wind production.

This infographic shows NREL's FY2020 energy consumption by fuel type. The South Table Mountain (STM) campus consumed 111,917 MBTU from grid electricity, 40,631 MBTU from natural gas, 29,417 MBTU from biomass, and 13,209 MBTU from solar photovoltaics. The overall energy use intensity of the STM campus as 171 kBTU/GSF in FY 2020.
This infographic shows NREL’s FY2020 energy consumption by fuel type. The Flatirons campus consumed 5,975 MBTU from grid electricity, 3,991 MBTU from natural gas, 2,889 MBTU from solar photovoltaics, and 1,747 MBTU from wind production. In addition, the Flatirons campus exported 8,429 MBTU of energy from solar photovoltaic and wind production. The energy use intensity for the Flatirons campus was 157 kBTU/GSF in FY2020.